Journal Article

Imagining the divine: Ghazali on imagination, dreams, and dreaming

A Hughes

in Journal of the American Academy of Religion

Published on behalf of American Academy of Religion

Volume 70, issue 1, pages 33-53
Published in print March 2002 | ISSN: 0002-7189
Published online March 2002 | e-ISSN: 1477-4585 | DOI:
Imagining the divine: Ghazali on imagination, dreams, and dreaming

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This study represents a phenomenological analysis of Ghazali's discussion of dreams and dream discourse as it specifically relates to the faculty of the imagination. The imagination is an important, though ambiguous and understudied category, as it is responsible for diverse visual activities such as dreaming, visions, and prophecy. The imagination, then, is responsible for translating the incorporeal divine world into corporeal material images. These images, in turn, represent an integral part of the mystic's experience. The imagination tries to overcome the fundamental aniconic tension in monotheism between God's immanance and His transcendence. As a result, the products of the imagination are very ambiguous: for the philosophers they are chimerical, yet for the mystics they provide an important access to truth. Although this study is devoted to Ghazali, a twelfth-century Muslim, the conclusions are meant to aid in the much needed construction of the imagination as a nuanced and important category in the academic study of religion.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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